Hastings approves waterfront cleanup decree with Atlantic Richfield

By Aleesia Forni

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The Hastings-on-Hudson Board of Trustees has approved an updated consent decree that will pave the way for the cleanup of 28 acres of waterfront property in the village owned by Atlantic Richfield Co., a subsidary of BP plc.  The vacant site, the former location of copper wire manufacturer Anaconda Wire and Cable Co., had been contaminated by toxins including polychlorinated biphenyls and metals including copper, lead and zinc.

The decree is an update to a version signed in 2003 that settled a lawsuit between Atlantic Richfield, the village and environmental group Riverkeeper and forced Atlantic Richfield to clean up the site. Since that time, factors including potential storm risks, rising sea levels and a new set of directives issued by the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) resulted in the need for changes to the agreement.

It’s a long time coming, and it’s a relief to get it behind us,” Hastings Mayor Peter Swiderski said following the July 5 board meeting.

Atlantic Richfield signed an order in 2014 with the DEC, pledging to fund the more than $250 million estimated cost of removing the contaminated soil and sediment from the designated state superfund site.

 As part of the cleanup, the developable portion of the site will be raised to 11 feet above sea level and buildings must be constructed more than 100 feet from the shoreline and not exceed 65 feet in height. Ideally, Swiderski said, he hopes to see a concrete ramp or boat launch along with lighter structures such small cafes, food vendors or kayak storage facilities on the property. The village plans to work with Atlantic Richfield and consultants funded by a grant from the DEC to finalize the design of the shoreline over the course of the next year.

A trust fund initially set up under the first consent decree remains in effect, seeded with $1.4 million that can be used for river-related projects. Atlantic Richfield will fund an additional $1.3 million to clean up the former village dump site, Quarry Park, and restore the trail that links Quarry Park with the waterfront. The renegotiated decree also sets aside up to 14.25 acres as dedicated open space.

“It’s exciting that it brings us to the next phase in the project,” Swiderski said of the decree’s approval.

That next phase, he said, will be deciding the fate of the two structures still standing on the property: a water tower and Building 52.

The water tower sits above a “substantial pocket of pollution,” according to Swiderski, and had always been slated for removal. Atlantic Richfield has pledged up to $1.35 million in matching funds to help either restore or create a new water tower on the property, depending both on feedback from the village and the water tower’s condition.

The board is also expected to decide later this year whether to grant the company a demolition permit for Building 52, a red-brick industrial building dubbed the “literal birthplace” of PCBs.

Swiderski said the design of the cleanup is due in March 2017.

“If the cleanup doesn’t start next year, it would be starting very soon into the following year,” he said.

Atlantic Richfield expects the process to take about five years to complete.

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About the author

Aleesia Forni
Aleesia Forni covers transportation, tourism, nonprofits and residential real estate for the Westchester County Business Journal. She previously worked as a financial reporter for the online newsletter Prospect News. She started with the Westchester County Business Journal in April 2016.

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